Resource 4: Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible

Resources

Joseph Smith Translation

The Inspired Version of the Bible – JST

The Joseph Smith Translation (JST) of the Bible, also known as the Inspired Version (IV), was written by Joseph from 1830 to 1833. Our eighth article of faith states that “we believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly.” Joseph, in relating this belief, stated:

“I believe the Bible as it read when it came from the pen of the original writers. Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors.” (DHC, vol. 6, p. 57.)

So Joseph took up the pen and worked through the Bible three times during that period, making inspired additions (sometimes lengthy), an occasional deletion, and sometimes changing the order of verses. One of the resources available to him was a popular commentary by Adam Clarke.

Types of Enhancements to the Bible

Research has shown that a number of changes Joseph made were identical or nearly so, to Clarke’s commentary on the Bible. From an article a couple BYU researchers wrote (http://jur.byu.edu/?p=21296), they show 5 types of changes Joseph made to the Bible which could have come through immediate revelation, prior doctrinal understanding, or utilizing the great work Clarke did to help better harmonize the gospels.

  1. Long insertions that interrupt the biblical narrative and have no obvious textual source (we have defined these as belonging to Smith’s revelatory intent),
  2. Theological corrections
  3. Interpretive additions that seek to clarify the text,
  4. Harmonization, particularly in the Synoptic gospels,
  5. Grammatical changes including technical clarifications and the modernization of terms.

The Translation Never Finished

Joseph never completed his re-translation of the Bible during his lifetime. We know he wanted to go back through with his greatly expanded doctrinal understanding later in his life. He just didn’t get to it before he was murdered. What we do have though, are some wonderful additions and clarifications of the scriptures. There are a number of great doctrinal enhancements made by the prophet during this work and we are fortunate to have access to these inspired scriptures.

Why do we use the King James Version?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints uses the King James Version of the Bible for perhaps two reasons. Joseph never finished his inspired translation so we do not know what other modifications he might have made. And the LDS church does not own the copyright to the JST. When the saints headed West to Utah, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (RLDS, now Community of Christ Church) held the copyright and later published this as their authoritative Bible. The LDS church has permission to use many of the passages in the LDS edition of the scriptures, both in the footnotes, and an area at the back of the published Bible for the longer passages. What Joseph did give us though is very valuable and the easiest way to utilize this resource is to just look up verses in the Bible that you are pondering over and see if the JST has a revised or expanded version of that verse.

Here is an article on the background of the Joseph Smith Translation if you are interested in more information.

So What’s so Great About the JST?

The JST contains numerous doctrinal contributions to the Bible. Moses chapter 1 is essentially a missing chapter from the beginning of Genesis. Numerous other passages contain lengthy doctrinal clarifications. One of my favorites is the expanded section in Genesis 14 where we learn of the priesthood power given to Melchizedek to bring his people into the presence of God. We will utilize the JST throughout our studies on this site, and I strongly encourage you to get a copy you can easily put your hands on.

Using the Joseph Smith Translation most effectively in Your Studies

This is an amazing resource that sheds new light on some difficult or lacking sections in the scriptures. To utilize the JST in your studies, it will be most helpful to have a copy of the book in some form (whether paper or digital).  Here are your options.

Access in Printed Form

Side-by-side comparison of the KJV and JST only showing the verses Joseph changed (link)

Full copy of the JST (link)

Three Bibles compared (JST, KJV, Revised Standard Version)(link)(this is listed as 69 pages so I am not sure what you’re getting since the side-by-side comparison book is about 500 pages)

Access Free Online

JST at Lds.org (this contains the longer passages not shown in footnotes to the scriptures)

Centerplace.org (this is the website of the Community of Christ church that holds the Joseph Smith Translation copyright. To get to the scriptures, you hover on Library at the top, then Scriptures, Holy Scriptures Inspired Version Menu, and then either click the top link to access the scriptures, or the third link to see a comparison of the IV to KJV.

JST on Centerplace

Scriptures.byu.edu (This is the LDS Citation Index website mentioned in the last resource blog entry. If you click on one of the books of the Bible on the left, you’ll see two menus to get to the chapters. You can select from the KJV at the top, or the JST on the bottom. This doesn’t have a comparison feature like some of the books or the Centerplace.org site provide so those are valuable resources for that type of study. I assume BYU has licensed the JST content though I don’t see notification on this section of their website.)

Also visit LDS Scripture Study Aids for more resources.

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God, family, country, scriptures, soccer, Sanderson, disc golf, dessert, development. These are a few of my favorite things. :) - Oak Norton

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